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‘Naad-Gunjan’ a Musical Tribute


“Life makes a full circle. Yes. there was a pause with hurdles and the scariest days to see death coming closer….and then the blessings unfathomable! Gratitude is the only feeling I can dedicate to God, Guru, and my parents…..!” These were the innermost sentiments of Nayanika Ghosh, the vibrant, gifted Kathak danseuse, who performed ‘Murta-Amurta’ (from form to formless) at the world-renowned Khajuraho Dance Festival in February 2022; after defeating a life-threatening disease. Nayanika, the Founder and Director of the Ninaad Foundation, has resumed her creative endeavours wholeheartedly ever since.

‘Naad-Gunjan’ presented by  Ninaad Foundation at the Habitat Centre recently, was a musical tribute to her esteemed Guru, the Padma Vibhushan, Late  Pt. Birju Maharaj through the ‘Ninaad’, (musical sounds) of Kathak by Nayanika herself and Hindustani Vocal by Pt. Sanjeev Abhayankar.

Earlier trained under Gurus like Smt. Rani Karna and Pt. Vijay Shankar at Padatik Kolkata, the famed institution of Smt Chetana and Shri Shyamanand Jalan; Nayanika was further groomed under  Pt. Birju Maharaj. ‘Abhivyakti’, offered by Nayanika as an ode to her departed Guru, showcased her flawless Taalim under Pt. Birju Maharaj, through the choicest gems of his own music and dance compositions.

Accompanied by Mohit Gangani on Tabla, Ashish Gangani on Pakhawaj, Lavanya Kumar on Sitar, and Shuheb Khan for vocal support, Nayanika opened with the invocatory verse –

 “Panch Shakti ke Srot so, banyo sakal sansaar,

Jeev-Jantu Praani Sakal, Jeevan-Jyoti Adhar”; sung by Shuheb in a ‘Laya-Mukt’ (rhythm-free) style like a Bol-Aalap in the serene Swaras of raga Hindol. Nayanika invoked the cosmic energy which gives life to all flora & fauna, birds, animals, and mankind, transcreating all these through hand gestures and body movements. Continuing the same raga the ace orchestra now established the Laya or rhythm cycle of 14 beats for the following composition “Bajat Taal Dhamaar Niratat…” set to Taal Dhamar, for the slow segment of ‘Nritta’, comprising Thaat, Uthaan, Aamad, Paran, etc, performed with aesthetic elan.

Establishing her credentials in the technical aspect of dancing to the difficult Taal Dhamar, Nayanika switched over to Drut Teentaal and continued with Tode, Tukde, Paran, and Chakkardar Tihais concluding with swiftly executed thirty pirouettes. The Gat-Nikas of ‘Ghunghat Ki Gat’ next, created the perfect preface for the Abhinaya on Thumri Khamaj ‘Hato jao Mohe chhedo na Shyam’, again written and composed by Pt. Birju Maharaj. Shuheb, the young vocalist rendered it with imaginative Bol-Banaav with the Aavirbhav and Tirobhava of other ragas like Pahadi, etc. The concluding Laggi on Tabla was reciprocated by the dancer with the crisp footwork, taking the Thumri and her performance to its climax.

Pt. Sanjeev Abhayankar took the stage thereafter for his mesmerizing vocal recital. Accompanied on Harmonium by Dr. Vinay Mishra and on Tabla by Anshul Pratap Singh, he opened with one of the most melodious evening ragas, Gorakh Kalyan. Prefaced with a short introductory Auchar, he commenced the traditional Bandish (composition) of Sadarang, “Tum sang preet mori lagi…”, set to Vilambit Ektaal. Elaborating the Bandish and the raga with Aalap, he gradually descended to the Mandra Shadja , then progressed through the Sargam phrases like ‘sa re ma.., sa re pa..’, sa re re ma dha…, ma ni dha ma re sa..’ in his honey-soaked voice. The leisurely elaboration of the raga going through the Sthaayi and Antara ultimately reached the torrential shower of variety of Taans.

The Chhota Khayal of Gorakh Kalyan “Dhan dhan dhan bhaag aaj….” set to Drut Ektaal, was dealt with the same adequacy and effortless ease, heralding thunderous applause. Sanjeev explained to his audiences how the Bandish itself provided him numerous openings for the variety of Vistar through Sargam and Aakar Taans.

The second raga Madhu-Kauns came as a comely contrast. Sanjeev offered two Khayals in this raga set to Madhya-Vilambit Rupak and Teentaal respectively. His aesthetically pleasing performance, especially the way he treated the Sahitya of the compositions, even the ‘Chhand ka kaam’ soaked with Bhava; brought alive the memory of his legendary Guru Pt. Jasraj. The melodious Harmonium accompaniment by Vinay Mishra seemed to inspire him many a time. ‘Naad-Gunjan’ was indeed a memorable tribute concert.

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